Washington Man Builds Better Life with Goodwill's Help

Rockville, MD – Goodwill Industries International recently named Michael Bulling its 2011 Kenneth Shaw Graduate of the Year for his determination to gain skills training and secure a job working as a custodian for Capital Building Maintenance, which services the Seattle-Tacoma International (SEATAC) Airport.
Bulling’s mother refers to him as the five-million-dollar kid, as his life began with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, causing him to be born three months premature at 1.5 pounds; within a couple of weeks, he was diagnosed with a learning disability and cerebral palsy. Bulling graduated from Lincoln High School in Tacoma, WA, in 1995 and found a few jobs, but it wasn’t until he received the advocacy he needed for future work when a friend told him about Goodwill® job training opportunities.
Bulling walked into Tacoma Goodwill in 2007 seeking services that would help him find a job. He soon entered into the CHOICES program, which helps people with disabilities prepare and earn employment through one-on-one soft skills training, including customer service and interview skills training. The program also included a twice-monthly class in which participants discuss job hunting, résumés and undergo mock interviews. Upon graduation from the CHOICES program, Bulling obtained help from a case manager through supported employment, which provides job retention services for people with disabilities. His case manager took Bulling to a hiring event where he met his future employer.
“Goodwill gave me a chance by helping me get a job and a fresh start — the same for anyone with a disability or anyone who never had a chance,” said Bulling. “Goodwill gave me an opportunity and I took the ball and ran with it. Now I have a career, not just a job.”
Bulling has worked as a custodian for the past three years where he maintains the D concourse, which includes sweeping, washing chairs, dusting, cleaning and replenishing supplies. The job is tasking, as more than 30 million people travel through the terminal each year. Bulling’s commute is also tasking: he must travel on two buses, including various transfers, to reach his employer from his home in a suburban area of Tacoma.
“Michael is a good example of how jobs truly transform lives,” said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “With Goodwill’s support and Michael’s hard work and determination to build a stable life for himself and become a better man, he is thriving in an environment where he faces new challenges each day.”
Having also earned the local Tacoma Goodwill’s Graduate award, Bulling understands that he can be a role model to others. He has spoken at a variety of events, including at local Boys & Girls Clubs and in front of organizations advocating on behalf of people with disabilities. Bulling says it best when offering advice to others: “Succeed at your highest level. Work at your own pace. Don’t give up, don’t give in. And try Goodwill.”
Goodwill Industries International’s Kenneth Shaw Graduate of the Year award honors an outstanding person or persons for completing a Goodwill Industries career program and becoming competitively employed by a non-Goodwill employer in the community.